As the dog days approach and most Magnolia State anglers retreat from the summer heat to air-conditioned homes, there is a group of anglers who relish this time of year.

Donned with reel-equipped bows and a thirst for adventure, Mississippi's bowfishers are taking to the waters in search of trophy fish. Some fish by day, some by night, some by land and others by boat. No matter if you've got $30,000 invested in an airboat outfitted with generators and flood lights, or $200 invested in a pair of sandals and a cheap bow, the fun you can have as an angling archer is endless.

Bowfishing anglers fish by sight and shoot fish as they surface or swim slowly in shallow waters. Spring and summer months are generally the best times to go bowfishing, when fish have moved up in shallow backwater areas to spawn or when low water levels have fish congregated in greater numbers.

According to Mississippi law, the only species legal to take by bow are carp, gar, bowfin and buffalo. Specimens of these species can grow to mammoth proportions, and once arrowed, they can take anglers for a wild ride.

What do you need to get into bowfishing? Not much, according to Greenwood's Jody Acosta, past president of the Bowfishing Association of Mississippi.

"If you want to have fun bowfishing, it doesn't take an expensive airboat, fanboat or any boat at all; you can get by just fine with waders (or shorts and sandals if you're brave enough) and a bow," he said. "One word of warning I will give is do not use your new Mathews, Hoyt, Bowtech or other high-dollar bow for bowfishing. Bowfishing as a whole is rough on equipment and (when you) add the element of covering your bow in fish slime, dropping it when being chased by a snake, etc., you do not want an expensive bow for fishing."

Acosta shoots an Oneida Osprey set at 28 pounds. He recommends a good starter compound bow like the Browning Barracuda, AMS Fishhawk or the Innerloc Hydrostrike. If you're more into recurves, he recommends the PSE Kingfisher or the PSE Coyote.

"The ideal draw is 25-40 pounds," Acosta said. "Anything more, and you'll shoot through your smaller fish; anything less, and you might not get penetration if you happen upon a monster gar or buffalo."

After you choose your bow, you'll need to outfit it with a reel, rest and line. Acosta recommends the AMS 310 retriever reel to get those fish back after you arrow them. Spinning reels such as the Zebco 808 or Muzzy are other options, as well as more traditional hand-wrap reels.

As far as rests go, Acosta points toward the AMS Wave and AMS Roller rests, as well as the Muzzy Fishhook or a homemade epoxy rest. Acosta recommends Muzzy 200-pound braided line or Fast Flight in 200- to 400-pound test.

When it comes to arrows for bowfishing, Acosta prefers an Innerloc arrow tipped with a three-bladed point for big fish, and a fiberglass arrow with a Muzzy gar tip for smaller fish. One thing to remember is that your arrow is attached to a line that comes right back to your bow. If that arrow gets hung up, it can come right back at you, something called "snapback" in the bowfishing community.

Acosta highly recommends using safety slides, or rings, on your arrows.

"AMS safety slides are very inexpensive and work to keep your line at the back of the arrow," he says.

These safety devices can prevent the loss of an eye or even the loss of your life.

Most of us can probably afford a bow and some arrows but not a multi-thousand dollar airboat/generator setup. Do you really have to have a boat to bowfish? Do you really have to fish at night? The answer to both questions is no.

Although most bowfishing is done under the cover of darkness, one can find good bowfishing opportunities in the daylight hours.

I came upon two young gents on the north end of Archer Island in Washington County this spring who were walking a secondary spur-levee on the Mississippi River. The high water had started to pour over this smaller levee, and "herds" of buffalo were swimming through the current. These two guys were having a blast in the shallow, swift current in the broad daylight.

A good pair of polarized sunglasses will be of great assistance if you choose to fish in the daytime. Brett McCool from Flowood has had good luck with daytime gar while walking the bank near the spillway at the Ross Barnett reservoir.

Matt Hendrix from Vicksburg wades the shallow water below shoals on Bayou Pierre.

"Sometimes we find them in the long, flat, shallow stretches," he said. "One of us will go downstream and cut them off, running the fish back and forth between us, taking shots when they come our way."

Most any place where water is running over a weir, rock dike or spillway is a good spot to wade fish during daylight hours. The runout weir at Tunica, the Sunflower River locks below Highway 12, rock dikes in the Mississippi and the weir in Tchula Lake are all good places for daylight bowfishing. You can find similar locations around the state on most any public water body.

Carp and buffalo will be passing over these obstructions when the water is up and will be easy prey. Gar feed on injured baitfish as they pass through these areas, and will be close to the surface. If it's a grinnel (bowfin) you're after, then head for the swamp. These prehistoric looking fish inhabit cypress and tupelo swamps where the water is black and the duckweed is thick.

If you've got a boat, you can access more places than by wading. Airboats will get you into waters where an outboard will not, but they aren't always necessary if you want to fish out of a boat. A stable, flat-bottomed, aluminum boat with a good deck and a trolling motor will suffice. A spotlight held by a friend or lights that attach directly to the weapon will get you into the action.

Just remember that you are going shallow, in waters a few inches to just a few feet deep, for the best bowfishing action. If your boat won't float in 2 feet of water, you may want to look for one that will, or just hop out and wade.

Brett McCool's rig is a 19-foot-long, 66-inch-wide G3, equipped with a 115-horsepower Yamaha, 80-pound-thrust trolling motor and a 10-horsepower generator powering eight deck-mounted flood lights. This is a do-it-all, hunting/fishing boat that can be outfitted to meet bowfishing needs, but if you really want to get specialized for bowfishing the shallows, an airboat is the ticket.

Acosta and Dan Prevost fish tournaments out of their 18-foot-long, 96-inch-wide American Airboat powered by a 496 Marine Levitator. A 3,500-watt generator powers six 400-watt Gator Pro lights.

How much water does it take to run this beast?

"It will run on dry ground," says Prevost, who also uses the boat to spray invasive weed species like alligator weed and water hyacinth.

The boat will literally drive across miles of floating vegetation when a conventional outboard or even a mud motor would be stopped cold. One thing to consider when adding lights, generators and other accessories is that the more equipment you add, the fewer people you can carry. Check to make sure you don't exceed the manufacturer's load limit. Doing so is illegal and will make the boat unsafe and difficult to handle, if it handles at all.

You probably won't have to look hard to find a public water body in Mississippi with bowfishing opportunities to suit your tastes. Most any slow-moving stream will support an ample supply of easy-to-reach gar, carp and buffalo.

Below the spillways of the main flood-control reservoirs are good places to start, but it would be wise to avoid areas where lots of people are fishing in daylight hours. Flood-control structures along the streams in the Yazoo River basin are also prime locations when runoff is entering the river at these points.

Locations where smaller tributaries meet larger rivers will hold concentrations of rough fish, as will eddy areas behind rock dikes in the Mississippi River and weirs in smaller streams.

The Bowfishing Association of Mississippi holds most of its yearly tournaments on oxbows along the Mississippi River. Early in the year, flooded fields and woods along the banks of public waterways will hold large numbers of spawning fish, but you must have landowner permission to go upon floodwaters that have exceeded the natural banks of a public waterway.

The dry times of late summer and early fall will leave isolated pools of water cut off from lakes and streams. These are great places to search for stranded rough fish that are isolated from the main waterway.

If you've got the summer-time blues and can't stay in the house any longer, get out there and shoot some fish with your bow. You can practice for archery season while you sweat off a few pounds.

There are no creel limits on most species of non-game gross fish legal to take with bow in Mississippi. The only exception is the alligator gar, of which only two can be taken per day.